McCain, Murkowski signal support for deal on ObamaCare payments

McCain, Murkowski signal support for deal on ObamaCare payments
© Greg Nash
Two holdouts on the GOP effort to repeal ObamaCare are throwing their support behind a bipartisan deal to extend payments to insurers after President Trump moved to nix them.
 
 
"While this deal certainly doesn’t solve all the problems caused by Obamacare, it shows that good faith, bipartisan negotiations can achieve consensus on lasting reform. ... I look forward to voting in support of this bill," McCain said in a statement.
 
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Murkowski in a separate statement called the proposal a "short-term deal," saying it was "an important step as we work towards long-term solutions."
 
In exchange for the cost-sharing reduction payments, the agreement from Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderCollins offering bill to boost battery research as GOP pushes energy 'innovation' Senate chairman says bipartisan health care package coming Thursday It's time for Republicans to lead (again) on climate MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurraySenate chairman says bipartisan health care package coming Thursday Overnight Health Care — Presented by Campaign for Accountability — House passes drug pricing bills amid ObamaCare row | Senate Republicans running away from Alabama abortion law | Ocasio-Cortez confronts CEO over K drug price tag Bipartisan senators unveil measure to end surprise medical bills MORE (D-Wash.) — the top members on the Senate Health Committee — would give states more flexibility to change ObamaCare's rules by getting a waiver.
 
The administration said last week that it was nixing the payments because it "cannot lawfully" make them to insurers since they weren't appropriated under the Affordable Care Act.
 
It's not clear if the Alexander-Murray deal can get the 60 votes needed in the Senate, much less win over the more conservative House GOP caucus.
 
 
"We haven't had a chance to think about the way forward yet," McConnell told reporters during a press conference held minutes after the agreement was announced.
 
Alexander will need to win over a significant number of his GOP colleagues, some of whom have been skeptical of supporting a bill that critics view as propping up ObamaCare.
 
The support from McCain and Murkowski marks a shift from the GOP effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare.
 
Murkowski and McCain both voted against the scaled-down ObamaCare repeal plan in July, while McCain also came out against a proposal last month from GOP Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThreat of impeachment takes oxygen out of 2019 agenda Graham urges Trump not to abandon infrastructure talks with Democrats Congress, White House near deal on spending, debt limit MORE (S.C.) and Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidySenate passes bill to undo tax increase on Gold Star military families Overnight Health Care — Presented by Campaign for Accountability — House passes drug pricing bills amid ObamaCare row | Senate Republicans running away from Alabama abortion law | Ocasio-Cortez confronts CEO over K drug price tag Bipartisan senators unveil measure to end surprise medical bills MORE (La.) to turn ObamaCare's insurance subsidies and Medicaid expansion into a block grant.
 
McCain during his first floor speech after being diagnosed with brain cancer earlier this year urged his colleagues to return to "regular order" and include input from both parties.
 
He added on Tuesday that he hopes the agreement from Alexander and Murray is "a sign of increased bipartisanship moving forward."